All too often we wait until the motivation hits us before we act. We try to summon up the urge to exercise or clean the house or do our tax. If we have a really strong incentive, we are more likely to feel motivated. Having to pay a fine if we don’t lodge our tax return is a good incentive and having the in-laws over for dinner will generally trigger a cleaning frenzy. But generally speaking, motivation follows action, not the other way around.
Think back to a time when you spilled some milk or orange juice in the fridge. You are forced to clean it up and when you are half way through wiping up the mess, you feel inspired to clean out the whole fridge. Or maybe you can relate to the idea of feeling really committed to exercise when you are halfway through a workout. Most of us feel motivated to complete our income tax once we get started. And the principle can even work with sex. It’s amazing how much more in the mood for sex you can feel once you are half way through the act!
Monday always seems to be the magic day. On Monday I will start my health kick. I will cut down my drinking – on Monday. And then Monday comes, and the motivation has disappeared. The motivation to lead a healthier lifestyle will be there once you have started exercising and have had a few alcohol free days.
Realistic goals, incentives and rewards are helpful, but they will only work their magic once you have started to act.